State television said the explosion at the Saratoga Hotel in Havana was “not a terrorist attack”, adding that the hotel was closed and only workers were inside at the time. the.
At least 22 people have been killed and more than 70 injured in a massive explosion at a popular hotel in Havana, Cuba.
The explosion at the famous Saratoga Hotel appears to have been caused by a gas leak, according to Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel.
Speaking from the scene of the disaster on Cuban television, President Diaz-Canel also ruled out any speculation that it was caused by a bomb or attack.
The blast carved a multi-story gash into the side of the building.
State television said the blast was ‘not a terrorist attack’, adding that the hotel was closed and only workers were inside at the time of the blast, quoting Roberto Enrique Calzadilla , a representative of the military company that operates many hotels in the country. .
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In a broadcast interview, Calzadilla said the 96-room hotel was expected to reopen in the coming days and workers on site were making final preparations. He also pointed to a gas leak as a possible cause of the tragedy.
“The workers were doing repairs and doing all the work to get the property open and in the morning they were replenishing the gas and it looks like an accident caused an explosion,” he said.
A child from a nearby school died and at least 15 others were injured in the blast on Friday night, according to the health ministry.
Juan Carlos Garcia, the country’s tourism minister, said initial reports suggested no foreigners were killed or injured in the blast.
While search and rescue efforts were underway, it was unclear if any other victims remained trapped in the rubble.
The Cubans rescued some of the people who had been left under the rubble minutes after the explosion as videos showed residents trying to rescue the injured.
Footage from the scene showed the facade blown away as plumes of dust and smoke rose around the debris on the ground.
Photos from Granma, the Communist Party’s official daily, showed images of the hotel with walls apparently blown away.